The Galveston Chamber of Commerce is involved in many local educational initiatives and has worked extensively with many of the fine teachers and school staff that serve our community.
One initiative includes the creation of the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. This group brings leaders together from across the island every month to discuss issues and achievements, and work toward raising the profile of all Island educational institutions. It is the first time in recent Galveston history that public, private and charter programs gathered at the same table to support one another.
One of the current issues in local education is the Galveston Independent School District tax ratification election. The school board called the election to ask voters to raise the maintenance and operations school tax rate 2 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is after it gives taxpayers a 3-cent decrease on the interest and sinking tax rate.
A goal of this election is to attract teachers and staff who want to work and live on the island, with the hope they bring their families with them or start new ones. Galveston has so many benefits, including the beaches, thriving arts scene, good restaurants and night life. It also is a community of people who look out for each other.
We need more residents whose natural instinct is to help others. Teachers make some of the best members of any community for that reason. They are the backbone of any city as they work with generations of children who grow to become productive citizens.
Throughout my personal experience, teachers and staff work extremely hard to better the lives of our children. Galveston comes with its own set of challenges when it comes to educating its diverse group of students. We need to offer the best possible package to entice the best teachers to the island.
Galveston Independent School District is far behind other regional school districts in starting teacher salary comparisons with new educators making $48,500 in Texas City, and those in Friendswood starting off at $47,000. GISD teachers begin at $44,700. A 2-cent increase would mean a jump closer to those districts with a first-year teacher making $46,100.
Voting for this proposition is a future investment in our community. Raising teacher and staff pay rates will help grow Galveston in a positive direction and give a much-needed boost to the dedicated educators on our Island.
The Galveston Chamber of Commerce board endorses voting for the tax ratification election proposition.
Gina Spagnola is president of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce.